A Pulitzer Prize-winning nation security reporter explains why Magneto was right

Originally published at: A Pulitzer Prize-winning nation security reporter explains why Magneto was right | Boing Boing


I haven’t read it myself but i had been keeping up with the cliff notes over at Polygon on the X-Men comic book series House of X and Powers of X. It’s Magneto & Xavier’s latest attempt to create a functional nation for mutant kind and thus far it seems to have been successful (both in-canon and the series itself). I believe the series has continued on since 2019 but i don’t know in detail how the story has progressed

Here’s the wiki for it


On the point of assimilation, someone once said America was a danger to Jewish culture because Jews are more accepted than at most any time in history. That being oppressed gives impetus to preserving an identity, but being accepted makes it easy to change and blend with a dominant culture, and lose the old.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


In all that text, couldn’t it have clearly been stated what Magneto was right about? It acknowledges that his character has changed through the years. So, which position was right?




So, it’s ok to both love and hate Levy’s?


The difference between Magneto and Xavier is that Xavier prefers mutants to kowtow to humans, to assimilate and keep a low profile all the while working to keep their human masters governments happy. Magneto is in favor for mutants to create their own nation state (including language and culture) and using force to protect his people if needed. He’s also proud of what he is so he does not advocate for assimilation but for celebrating mutanthood. In the House of X series both him and Xavier finally meet eye to eye on a lot of these points.


I’ll check back with you after 2nd cup of coffee, it’s still too early for this…


Especially given the range of views and positions he’s espoused through his various incarnations over the decades.

I would hope the author didn’t think Magneto was right in X-Men 2 when he attempted to use Cerebro II to kill all non-mutant humans.


If Magneto was right then there is no hope for the world.

His world-view is that there is no such thing as peaceful coexistence, and the entire world must fearfully balkanize, and he must have his ethnostate in order to feel safe. If this isn’t belief in a lie caused by his personal trauma, if this is truly the state of all humanity, then there is no hope for diversity, no hope for cosmopolitanism, and we all must retreat armed, to our bunkers.

If Magneto is right, then we will never be free, we will simply imprison ourselves behind more barbed wire and watchtowers, all the while trying to convince ourselves that we are on the outside.


I do think he’s right. Magneto ultimately wants mutants to just be mutants, to not have to hide who or what they are. Xavier knows that humans fear what mutants can do so he advocates for them to blend in as much as possible as to not cause hysterics and fear. However the problem here isn’t what Magneto or Xavier are or aren’t doing, the problem is what mankind is doing as a response. Usually in the comics it boils down to genocide or requiring mutants to serve as tools for governments to control, under these two options Magneto’s position of mutants making their own nation to protect themselves is the only appropriate course of action.


In a way, that’s a failure of storytelling. Because if Xavier is proven right, then the central conflict which drives the narrative no longer exits. It’s like the Roadrunner cartoons- If the coyote ever catches the roadrunner, then the cartoon is over.

The X-Men series thrives on this conflict between these two world views- the hope of Xavier against the despair of Magneto, but when the conflict is made to go on forever, you can see why people start thinking that despair is somehow rational.


Does he though? There’s an awful lot of announcing mutants to the world, testifying before congress, protests, politicking etc with Xavier. The X-Men themselves are meant to be a public demonstration of the benefits of mutants and their powers, and a force to protect Mutants themselves.

There’s often a fair bit of respectability politics floating around Xavier (sometimes criticized as such). But you can just as easily say that Xavier’s position is that Mutants should fight for their rights within the societies they exist in.

Magneto has varied in the comics from outright supremacy and advocating for the destruction and replacement of base line humans. To a separatist model.

The comics largely avoid the darker implications of separatism and ethnostates recently by making that Mutant homeland a newly created land mass without a native population to separate. But they haven’t always, before we moved to respectable Magneto the whole forceably carving it out from existing nations is one of things that still made him the clear bad-guy.


True but the governments treat mutants with distrust and hostility, which considering their powers… yeah it makes sense but in the comics it ends up boiling down to registering one’s powers/identity with the government or else. I would not consider a government led by humans to have mutants’ rights in their best interest but i am a cynic i suppose.

Also as far as Xavier being the good guy, he’s done many questionable/deplorable/unforgivable things in the comics. Both him and Magneto are honestly on even standing when it comes to morals as i see it, Xavier just has the advantage of being perceived as the nice guy but is not necessarily so, when Magneto is straightforward about his intentions (which at times are actually criminal depending on the story at hand).

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But that’s where the darker implications come in.

If that’s how you view it. Then progressives should just break off into their own nation, leaving Texas to oppress all they like. Or to later pursue forcful regime change.

Blacks should just go off and start their own Black ethnostate.

LGBT folks too.

That’s the Separatist model.

And just realistically. You run the Zionism/Israel metaphor and look at the state of that situation.

If we use or buy into the Mutants as analogs for real world oppressed people. Then arguing that he’s right is pretty fucked.


At what point is it the right thing to do to form one’s own state in the face of every increasing levels of violence and oppression? The calls for a Jewish state predate the Holocaust, but brought in new supporters (both Jewish and non-Jewish) after 6 million Jews were summarily murdered for daring to exist. The current state of affairs in Israel, with a high level of segregation and apartheid of the Palestinian people doesn’t negate the very valid reasons FOR Zionism. At what point do you decamp for more appealing shores if your life constitutes varying levels of disapproval and violence?

Until we solve the core problem of ethno-nationalism, there will continue to be demands for a safe, secure homeland for ethnic minorities, who more often than not, are not the architects of the antagonism that causes their life to be a living hell. It’s not on oppressed minorities to “fix” the problem, since it’s not one of their own making. But it’ s a little disingenuous to ask them to decolonize their way of thinking, without dealing with the core problem.

That being said, it’s clear that the reactionary type of ethno-nationalism can shift into violence and tribalism. But oppressed minorities are not the root of the problem. That most certainly does not excuse turning on others for the same treatment, but at some point, you can’t keep expecting human beings to NOT act as human beings tend to, which is figure out ways to deal with the trauma of exclusion and to protect one’s self and one’s community. Expecting the oppressed to rise above in the face of obviously untenable circumstances isn’t really fair to those being oppressed… it let’s the oppressor to continue to act as they wish, while putting the oppressed in an impossible position.

Magneto can be both correct about the situation that the Mutants are put into regularly, while being wrong about turning violence against the oppressor and other groups who might also be oppressed. But it’s not so black and white to say that an ideology that is not of the oppressed making is the problem of the oppressed to solve. This is really basic Franz Fanon stuff here. People can only take so much before the either leave or go on the offensive.


X-Men is also a bit of an odd parallel for real racism because the people who want to register mutants do have some point. Magneto can level buildings with his mind. Xavier has the capability of wiping out humanity. It’s bigotry to include people with a blue tongue in the same category, but it’s not unreasonable to do something to keep track people who are far more dangerous than even restricted weapons have any chance of being. That’s…never been true for any groups like Jews, black people, or so on.

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But I think the point is that the groups you mentioned are assumed to have some “superhuman” traits that were seen as a threat to white supremacy - Jews controlling the world banking/media landscape, Black men as hypersexualized and hyperathletic (hence needed to be controlled by white men, who were supposedly “superior” in intelligence, civilization, etc). For the mutants, the existence of such mutations is assumed to be a threat, no matter what the individual does. Much like no matter what a Jewish person or a Black man does, they are thought to be a threat. A member of the Rothschild family is seen as evidence for a vast Jewish conspiracy, so all Jews are a threat, no matter what they do. A remarkably strong Black man is seen as evidence of all Black men being a physical threat to white society. So, I think that’s the point they are trying to make there, that it doesn’t actually matter what the mutant does, they are a threat, no matter their actual actions.


I think the direct comparison of Xmen with real life oppresed groups doesn’t really work on a 1-to-1, mutants have reality altering powers and humans are just not on equal footing to them hence their predisposition to default to experimenting on mutants against their will, using them as weapons against their best interests, and wiping them out. The closer you look at the Xmen the less you can make those comparisons, that said they’re still a good stand-in to talk about discrimination within the frame of story telling. That said the closest we can get to the comparison is in today’s culture marginalized groups have taken to being more vocal and aggressive defending themselves rather than being passive about wanting to be treated as equals. When a cop shoots a person of color their communities force cities and governments to take action, rather than take the long road of playing nice and hope that they’re taken seriously.

I wouldn’t say that marginalized communities need to start their own separate countries or governments, but there is a good case to be said for taking charge on making the changes you want to see happen rather than wait for those in power to throw you a small bone when its in their best interest.


I guess that makes sense as far as it goes. It just strikes me as odd because the core truth about race is that it’s purely a social construct and people from one end of the world to the other are all fundamentally the same. While both Magneto and his opponents are right, humans and at least some mutants aren’t.